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Record Editorial - Dock platforms allow people to enjoy MN's lakes

DETROIT LAKES - Let them have platforms.

Property owners in Minnesota pay in many ways for the joy of owning lakeshore. We say let them enjoy it a little by having a platform on the end of their dock if they want one. It's a nice place to fish or lie in the sun.

That's our take on the issue of dock platforms.

For now, the Department of Natural Resources agrees. But a number of lawmakers do not, and are considering drafting a bill to change it this session.

For now, Minnesota lake homeowners will be allowed platforms at end of their docks under a general permit issued recently by the DNR.

The move legalizes platforms up to 170 square feet, which were temporarily allowed this past year as the DNR figured out how to regulate them, according to a story in the Bemidji Pioneer. The new permit grants the platforms through November 2012.

Kent Lokkesmoe, director of the DNR's Division of Waters, in his decision said the new general permit would authorize the installation of a single, temporary platform at the lake end of a dock.

The dock providing access to the platform must not be more than 5 feet wide. The platform measure including the last access dock section can't exceed 170 square feet, or the platform measured separately from the last section can't exceed 120 square feet.

The permit is valid only for lakes that have a general development or recreational development shoreline lake classification.

Counties and lake conservation districts that don't like the platforms can prohibit their use through a resolution.

Docks and dock platforms exceeding 8 feet in more than one dimension, in excess of the new permit, must be removed or be authorized by individual permit. They are not "grandfathered-in."

Some DFLers in the state Senate are unhappy with the new DNR permit and are considering a bill to reverse it.

They say the decision goes against what Minnesotans want and instead favors special interests, such as dock manufacturers and real estate agents who want an extra selling point in so-called "party platforms."

On such senator is Mary Olson of Bemidji:

"Does it make any sense that we have setback requirements and requirements that designate lot sizes and requirements that govern lakeshore property people own because of its impact on the lake? But suddenly we're allowing these large private structures to be built on the public water?"

We understand the concern, but the movement to ban dock platforms appears to be a solution in search of a problem.

The platforms will allow people to get out on the water and enjoy the lakes, and that's the reason people buy lakeshore property in the first place.

Let them enjoy it.